PokerStars Acquires Full Tilt Poker

Settlement reached with DOJ. FTP balances to be returned in full

15 months, two WSOPs, one Euro Championships, a Royal Wedding and something called the ‘Jubilympics’. All this and more has happened since PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker were targeted by the American Department of Justice in poker’s Black Friday last April. However, the most dramatic saga in online poker history should have a happy ending after PokerStars reached an agreement with DOJ to acquire the full assets of FTP and, in turn, pay back all players with money still stuck on the site!

According to details released on Tuesday, July 31 by PokerStars and the DOJ, FTP will voluntarily forfeit all assets to the U.S. government, which will then be transferred to PokerStars over the next few months.

PokerStars will also pay $547m to the U.S. government over the next three years and non-U.S. FTP players will be reimbursed approximately $184m with 90 days, while those in the U.S. can file a petition with the DOJ Asset Forfeiture Money Laundering Service to get back their monies.

Stars, Stars Everywhere

But while the deal is great news for players, it’s not too bad for those behind the scenes at FTP and PokerStars. All civil forfeiture and money laundering charges against individuals related to the sites will be dropped and, according to PokerStars, the ‘settlement acknowledges that both PokerStars and Full Tilt are eligible to apply for a license in the U.S. to offer real money poker when states or the federal government offer such an opportunity’.

However, lawmen haven’t let everyone off the hook, and, as announced by the United States Attorney’s Office, the deal means that PokerStars is prohibited ‘from employing, or otherwise hiring, FTP insiders Raymond Bitar, Howard Lederer, Rafael Furst, Chris Ferguson, and Nelson Burtnick.  Bitar and Burtnick are also named as defendants in a related criminal Indictment.  Bitar, Lederer, Furst, and Ferguson are named as civil money-laundering defendants in this complaint’.

‘We are pleased to announce these settlements by Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, which allow us to quickly get significant compensation into the victim players’ hands,’ Manhattan U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara, said on Tuesday.

‘Today’s settlements demonstrate that if you engage in conduct that violates the laws of the United States, as we alleged in this case, then even if you are doing so from across the ocean, you will have to answer for that conduct and turn over your ill-gotten gains.’

The formal closure of the deal is expected with the next week, and PokerStars has pledged to re-open the beleaguered FTP within 90 days of signing the final dotted line.

What do you think?

So that’s that. Black Friday is just a memory, PokerStars looks set to become the biggest poker site of all time, Full Tilt is coming back (kind of) and all of us sweating lost funds on FTP can finally sleep easy. But what do you think of the deal?

Are you happy, concerned, relieved or unsure what this all means for poker’s future? If you’ve got something you want to say, check out the links below with more details on the deal and get in touch with us via Facebook or Twitter!

PokerStars Blog

United States Attorney’s Office

Diamond Flush Thread

TwoPlusTwo Thread


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